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How confidential is “confidential” information?

October 13th, 2008 · 6 Comments

A vendor client of Gartner had a full-day session with an analyst where the vendor presented its detailed upcoming product plans and got lots of feedback from this analyst (Gartner calls it “SAS” – or Strategic Advisory Services). Two weeks later, the analyst announced that he was leaving Gartner to join a major competitor of this vendor.

When the vendor who had paid for the SAS found out the analyst was going to its competitor, they contacted us, concerned that the non-disclosure (NDA) information shared with him would now be shared with their arch-enemy — and what was Gartner going to do about it?

Well, one thing was done before that analyst walked through the doors on his first day of work: he signed an agreement that bound him not to tell anyone outside Gartner any confidential information he learned while working at Gartner. That obligation to maintain the confidentiality of this information doesn’t end when his employment does. When he gave notice, he was also reminded by his manager that he signed this agreement and that it’s legally binding.

So what? Protecting confidential client information is one a cornerstone of the Gartner Principles of Ethical Conduct. That obligation to keep confidential information confidential doesn’t end when employment with Gartner does.

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6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Kudos to the Gartner Ombudsman for asking tough questions « The IIAR Blog // Oct 15, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    […] Kudos to the Gartner Ombudsman for asking tough questions Posted on Wednesday 15th October 2008 by Ludovic I read this post on the new Gartner Ombudsman blog today: How confidential is “confidential” information? […]

  • 2 Nancy Erskine // Oct 15, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    Thanks much for your comment. Keep reading; we’re going to keep on sharing “real life” stories and giving thoughts on relevance. Nancy

  • 3 David Rossiter // Oct 16, 2008 at 3:29 am

    Hi Nancy

    Some analyst firms try to keep analyst departures confidential until they walk out the door – but still have them working on research and consulting projects. Some instruct analysts not to reveal that they are leaving.

    What is Gartner’s position on this, in particular if an analyst is moving to a vendor rather than another analyst firm?

    Thanks, David

  • 4 Gartner relaunches Office of Ombudsman presence on web « SageCircle Blog // Oct 16, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    […] How confidential is “confidential” information? […]

  • 5 Nancy Erskine // Oct 17, 2008 at 10:18 am

    Comment back to David, who asked about how confidential we keep imminent analyst departures. The answer is we don’t keep them confidential at all. In general, when analysts inform Gartner that they are leaving to join a vendor, right away their scheduled client inquiries, conference presentations and vendor-briefings are rescheduled with other analysts. And the vendors they cover most directly are informed right away. The idea is to be as transparent as possible.

  • 6 David Rossiter // Oct 20, 2008 at 11:28 am

    Thanks Nancy. That’s great to hear. I am disappointed that more analyst firms don’t take the same approach.